The age-old saying that you should never meet your heroes proved to be a bitter, brutal truth last weekend. News that the legendary Bronx Bombers themselves, Ultramagnetic MCs, were touring in honour of the 25th anniversary of Critical Beatdown had reached me last December, and considering that I rate that particular release as “the perfect rap album” it’s fair to say that I was basically hypebeasting at the very thought of seeing the Four Horsemen reel off their classics. That’s not to say that I didn’t exercise a certain degree of caution in my anticipation, as I declared to anyone within earshot that it would be, “Either the greatest show of all time, or the worst. Either way, I can’t miss it!”. If only I’d known…
When the night of the show finally rolled around, I endured a lengthy journey south of the border to the venue in question, and eventually found myself in a sparsely filled room showcasing a variety of Troop jackets, Cazel frames and even a “Too Hot It Hurts” tee in homage to TR Love’s outfit from the back cover. After enduring a lengthy wait, the crew finally hit the stage, but the alarm bells started going off immediately. DJ Moe Love was conspicuous in his absence, replaced by what appeared to be a couple of teenagers that the crew had met at a local pool hall, who an associate of mine officially dubbed as “Crock-of-shit and Tubbs”. (Word to Miami Vice). Suddenly Ced Gee hits the stage, looking the worse for wear, with another guy who was rapping Kool Keith’s verses (but was clearly not Dr. Octagon on account of the fact that he was at least two foot taller), who had a gold sparkly scarf and sunglasses concealing most of his face.
After a running through a couple of tracks, the real Keith appeared wearing a cape and his own gold scarf tied around his dome, revealing the “Fale Keith” to be TR. This is when it all turned to shit. It was immediately obvious that Poppa Large was somehow managing to replicate his delivery from the album note-for-note, every word delivered in perfect cadence without taking a breath. “Holy shit, this guy’s incredible!” Then he said something in between a track, and his mic was barely audible (due to the top-notch work of the soundman, who spent the entire night on Twitter in between picking a winner via his nasal passage). “Wait a minute! Is he… miming?” I looked again, and confirmed the worst. What the fuck? I was then informed that the stand-in “DJs” were in fact some fans that had turned up to Ultra’s instore appearance at a local record spot, who had been given the task of downloading MP3s of the Critical Beatdown for the crew to use as backing tracks.
That wasn’t the worst of it though. Ced Gee seemed to be on another planet, at one stage chanting, “Throw ya names in the air,” before suddenly declaring it was time for an Ultra workout, as he and TR Love removed their shirts and began doing jumping-jacks on some Billy Banks shit. This inspired to Kool Keith to drop his jeans and jump off stage to walk through the crowd while miming his raps in a pair of bright orange tighty-whiteys, which I guess is to be expected based on the cover of his Sex Style LP. The real tragedy is that all of a sudden the pasty-faced rent-a-DJ crew decided to follow suit, and before long the stage was filled with hideous man boobs and dudes dancing around in boxer shorts. It would have been bad enough if this fuckery had only lasted for one track, but fifteen minutes later no one had bothered to replace their garments. I yelled out “Fuck outta here, Magic Mike!” in protest, as the scene degenerated before my eyes, as a clearly “beamed-up to Scotty” Ced Gee proceeded to try to slap Keith on the ass on some locker-room shit. What was supposed to be a celebration of the greatest hip-hop album ever made had quickly transformed into a homoerotic Rikers Island all-male revue.
As the majority of the crowd turned against them, the crew finally got dressed and asked if we wanted to hear some “new material”. Despite our protests to the contrary, they brought out their weed/crack carrier, who I suspect may have been Marc Live from Raw Breed (who’s Keith’s cousin), who then started thrusting his crotch into the face of some willing broad at the front of the stage in time to the beat of this god-awful new song. By this stage, I was feeling like I was about to throw up in my mouth. They charged $70 for this shit? As I stood there in horror, slowly shaking my head in disgust and shouting abuse at the stage, Ced and TR decided to spark a “freestyle” session which was so ill-advised and sloppy that I suddenly yearned for a return to their lip-syncing. With no end in sight, I walked out before I did myself any physical harm and headed back to my mother’s basement, intent on melting down every piece of Ultramagnetic music that I own and burying it in the desert next to all those E.T. cartridges that Atari couldn’t sell.
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